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Our Story

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SMALL BEGINNINGS

The Copeland Distillery story started in the summer of 2016, when we successfully raised £30,000 from crowdfunding.

Our journey could not have started without the support of over 390 Founders who pledged between £50 and £500, taking a chance on the new ginfusions products based solely on our brand values and story.

Their belief in what we were planning to create was instrumental in getting our products to market and for that we are eternally grateful.


THE COPELAND DISTILLERY

After nine months construction, we opened the doors of the new Copeland Distillery in August 2019, signalling the start of our journey to create Northern Ireland’s most innovative craft distillery. Our 6,500 square-foot home is located just a stone’s throw from the historic harbour in Donaghadee, County Down, revitalising the former cinema and Ards bottling Company site which lay unoccupied for more than 20 years.

Our 125-year lease is a signal of our commitment to Donaghadee and our ambition to share the area’s rich maritime and distilling history with domestic and international visitors. The Distillery is the production site of our award winning Classic Irish and Navy Strength gins, our rum range and our new range of malt and pot-still whiskey which are currently maturing prior to release from 2024. Visitors can also take advantage of our distillery tour, learning more about our range of spirits, how we make our products or just relaxing and taking some time in our coffee shop.

We have three copper stills, two whiskey and one gin still, named Betty, Hessie and Pam after Gareth’s grandmothers and Mum, and take pride in carefully selecting fair, wild botanicals and local fruits sourced from the farms of County Down. Our mission is simple: to create great tasting spirits which surprise and delight, and reflect the history and traditions of the local area.

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THE COPELAND ISLANDS

Looking out from Donaghadee harbour lie the Copeland Islands, the inspiration for our ‘coastal spirit’. Rich in history and heritage, the Copeland Islands (or ‘Kaupmanneyjar’ in Norse), were used centuries ago by the Vikings as a trading post and used through the ages as a smuggling point for bringing rum and whiskey into County Down from Scotland.

In the latter half of the 19th century, long before Belfast docks became fully developed, The Copeland Islands and Donaghadee harbour became well-known as a main shipping dock in the North of Ireland. Many fishermen and sailors passed Donaghadee on their way to voyages far and wide, leaving behind tales of love, sea battles and adventure. Sadly the Copeland Islands also became well-known for many shipwrecks. Many men and women lost their lives to this treacherous part of the sea; we are here to tell their stories and resurface their spirit.

Discover the full story on a Copeland Tour
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Everything we do here at Copeland is based on our four core values:

 

  • TASTE
  • INNOVATION
  • HERITAGE
  • COMMUNITY


Wherever possible, we source local botanicals and ingredients to reflect our locality and commitment to quality. All of the fruits for our ginfusions, Rhuberry and Raspberry & Mint, are sourced from farms in County Down and our Classic Irish gin uses a harmony of botanicals including Sea Pink Maritima which is foraged from the Copeland Islands.

And our spirits have been created to reflect the history of the local area – Naval oranges in our Irish gin to reflect naval seafarers, rums to commemorate the contrabandists and bootleggers from times gone by and Irish whiskeys to celebrate the history of Donaghadee harbour and distilleries of old.

But key to them all are flavours which stand out from the crowd. From our cask-aged rums and Jones 1778 Navy Strength gin, our juniper-prominent ginfusions or our new Merchants’ Quay blended whiskey, our focus is on flavour which surprises and delights. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

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